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April 16, 2006: Food sensitivities, digestive problems and joint pain

Have you been going for physiotherapy or chiropractic for months or even years to deal with chronic low back, hip or pelvic pain?  Or do you have arthritis-like joint pain?  Or sinus trouble?  Skin problems?  Or do you suffer from digestive problems like Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, excessive gas, abdominal bloating and pain?  Or no matter how frequently you exercise and how well you eat, you can't get rid of the lower belly pooch?  Food sensitivities may be at the root of your problem as they can affect every system in the body.   Symptoms can be as mild as a runny nose or as life-threatening as anaphylactic shock.  I frequently had stomach aches after eating, even as a child, and over my adult life I had every medical test in the book to find the cause of the problem.  Everything always came back normal.  It wasn't until I was tested for food sensitivities and eliminated those foods that I felt better.

Food sensitivity and allergy cause an immune response in the body.  The body treats the allergen as if it were an invading bacteria or virus rather than nourishing food, and damages the hair-like villi in the intestine critical for absorbing the nutrients, which can lead malnutrition. The damaged intestine becomes inflamed, causing a distended belly and abdominal discomfort, which may disrupt the nerve communication to the local muscles needed to stabilize the pelvis and lumbar spine, leading to low back and pelvic pain.  The damaged intestine may then leak, allowing partially digested food particles to leave the digestive tract and enter the bloodstream, which causes a full-fledged immune response.  Once the immune system is activated, the antigens (the particles that causes the immune response) can spread to any tissue in the body that is accessible via the circulatory or receptor/ligand system.  Often these antigens wind up in the joints causing inflammation and swelling when the body's antibodies attack them.

Dairy allergies, specifically to the proteins lactose and/or casein, are extremely common.  Often choosing organic raw dairy resolves the problem, as the milk then contains the enzymes that aid in its digestion.  Pasteurization kills those beneficial enzymes.  One in 133 people is sensitive to gluten, the elastic-like protein found wheat and rye that make them the grains of choice for baking.  Gluten is in all grains except for rice, buckwheat, millet and corn.  Celiac disease is a genetic disorder of extreme gluten intolerance, and those that have it must stay off gluten for life, but even a mild gluten intolerance and the immune response it causes can lead to a huge variety of seemingly unrelated problems.  Those suffering from arthritis are usually sensitive to nightshade vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and green and red peppers and when those foods are eliminated, the arthritis symptoms are greatly reduced or disappear.  Many people have no idea that they have food sensitivities, and do not relate their various aches and pains to food, as often it takes more than a day after eating the offending food for the immune response to be activated.  Others, who eat foods they are sensitive to on a daily basis, simply have no idea that they are feeling badly until the go off the offending foods and discover what it is like to feel good.

Although gluten, milk, soy, wheat, seafood, peanuts, eggs, sesame, chocolate, and corn are the most common food sensitivities, one can develop a sensitivity to any food, and if you have any of the above symptoms, it is worth being tested.  Blood tests can be done for common food sensitivities, or if you prefer a non-invasive method, vega testing can be done.  (I fully admit I haven't the foggiest idea how vega testing works, but it seems to, as I have personally benefited as have many of my clients.)  It is also worth noting that in some cases, you will not be sensitive to the organic, least processed version of the same food, so choosing quality is always a good idea.

Check out my new blog and help me promote quality dairy by posting the best brands you can buy in your part of the world.  Comment on my tips if you want - tell me what you like and what you don't like, and what you want to read more about. Have your say!

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Chek, Paul; How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!  Chek Institute, San Diego, CA, 2004.
Chek, Paul; You Are What You Eat CD Series  Chek Institute, San Diego, CA, 2002.
Braly, James M.D., and Hoggan, Ron, M.A. Dangerous Grains Avery, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc., New York, NY, 2002.
Childers, NF and Margoles, MS, An apparent relation of nightshades (solanaceae) to arthritis J. of Neurological and Orthopedic Medical Surgery 12(227-231), 1993.
Online at food allergies